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Soundtrack review: Ray Donovan (Marcelo Zarvos – 2012)


Soundtrack review: Ray Donovan (Marcelo Zarvos – 2012)


“Ray Donovan” is an American television crime drama series created by Ann Biderman for Showtime. The show takes place in Los Angeles, California, where Irish-American Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber), originally from South Boston, works for the powerful law firm Goldman & Drexler, representing the rich and famous. Donovan is a “Fixer”: a person who arranges bribes, payoffs, threats, etc. to ensure the outcome of a given situation. Ray experiences his own problems when his father, Mickey Donovan (Jon Voight), is unexpectedly released from prison, and the FBI attempts to bring down Ray and his associates. Marcelo Zarvos wrote the score.

My experience with this composer is that he always writes music that supports very well the stories on screen without necessarily blowing my mind as a standalone listen. “Ray Donovan” is a show that moves fast and dark with a lot of investigative and suspenseful moments. There are quite a few cues that play those moments and I don’t necessarily connect well with them.

Marcelo Zavros sometimes uses the Latin guitar well and makes the cues more interesting to me. Other times there are jazzy inserts like in “Abby and Ray” that give me a bit more insight into the characters. The music also gets interesting for me when it borders on the industrial like in “Trouble at the Academy”. These small moments of variation in the sound keep me connected with the score.

I wish there was more darkness in the music. Or, better said, deeper darkness because overall “Ray Donovan” is a shadowy composition. There’s barely any light but the music stays in a sort of limbo as if it was stuck in that moment when you wake up confused after an intense dream and you are not sure if it’s morning or not. I think this score needs the on screen images to feel complete and to be more rewarding.

“Bloody mirror” is the kind of cue I love right from the start. The “Dexter” like mood, that resigning to fate or to something that you need to embrace, that alluring darkness punctuated by precise piano drops, this is something I would have liked to have heard more of. Yes, this cue would have fit on the “Dexter” score. It’s easy for me to single out cues like this or “We are fine” because they stand out mood wise.

“Ray Donovan” is a dark shallow sea that sometimes gets deep all of a sudden. I think it will make more sense to fans of the show than it did to me.

Cue rating: 83 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 11 / 66

Album excellence: 16%


Two birds

Ray’s nightmare

Case shut down

You treat me like a kid


The Bag Or The Bat




Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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